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Minneapolis ranked 18th happiest city in the world

City service leaders consider their role in the quality of living in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis’ environment and transportation services strive to increase community engagement.
Image by Gabrielle Erenstein
Minneapolis’ environment and transportation services strive to increase community engagement.

Minneapolis was named the 18th happiest city in the world, the only U.S. city ranked “Gold” by the Institute for Quality of Life

The ranking considers a city’s governance, environment, economy, citizens and mobility. Minneapolis’ environment and mobility ratings were the lowest out of the five. 

The environment rating considers the city’s management of natural resources, green spaces and sewer and waste management. The mobility rating considers accessible and safe public transportation. 

Metro Transit’s General Manager Lesley Kandaras said the organization wants to expand its transit network around and outside Minneapolis, such as the current construction of the E line rapid bus route in Dinkytown and F Line from Minneapolis to Blaine

“We’re also looking at where we can improve service on existing routes, such as adding more trips or serving a longer portion of the day,” Kandaras said. “There’s a lot of work underway to prioritize additional improvements here in Minneapolis.” 

Clean City Coordinator Michelle Howard said that the city’s volunteer programs such as “adopt-a-highway” or “adopt-a-block” are a huge environmental plus for Minneapolis. Howard added it also takes requests for cleaning supply deliveries, including helping the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board with Earth Day clean-up events. 

Recycling Coordinator Kellie Kish said community engagement via social media, emails and in-person events is what makes the city’s recycling and clean-up services efficient. Kish added the in-person events are valuable because they help educate residents on how to keep the environment clean. 

“One thing that really is unique to Minneapolis is how organized the neighborhood and community groups are,” Kish said. “We take advantage of them as an extension of providing information on city services.”

Kandaras said many of Metro Transit’s services are improved through engagement with its riders, such as the new Network Now program which is underway to gain feedback from riders and improve future rides and services. 

“We hear a lot of positive feedback around our bus rapid transit network expansion,” Kandaras said. “In general, people want a service that is clean, safe, reliable; it meets their needs.”

Kandaras said a major development over the last year is increasing Metro Transit’s safety measures through police and security officers at transit stations. Kandaras added Metro Transit aims to hire more Transit Rider Investment Program agents who ride trains and buses to provide immediate assistance to customers. 

Metro Transit is also working to improve its transit system beyond the city through its transit planners, according to Kandaras.

“The idea is to create a strong network where people can get where they need to go,” Kandaras said.

Howard said besides volunteer programs, the city also offers graffiti removal help on homes and businesses and storm drain stenciling, which reduces litter going into bodies of water. Howard and Kish said a huge part of their work is raising awareness and educating people on the proper ways to help clean the city. 

The recycling cross-contamination rate, where non-recyclable material is recycled in Minneapolis, is 10% while the rates in other metro cities are usually 25-40%, Kish said. She added Minneapolis’ organic compost contamination rate is at 1%, which is almost unheard of for a residential program. 

“I think just our want to be engaged not only with the programs available to us, but our local community is really why there’s that greater sense of happiness in the area,” Kish said.

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